Harpswell selectmen chairwoman faces re-election challenge

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HARPSWELL — Voters at the annual Town Meeting in March will choose between two candidates for the Board of Selectmen and two for road commissioner.

Selectmen Chairman Elinor Multer is seeking re-election against C. Matthew Rich. The current road commissioner, Bob Venard, is stepping down, and Paul Standridge and Ronald Ponziani are vying to take his place.

Joanne Rogers, a 26-year veteran of the School Administrative District 75 Board of Directors, is running unopposed for re-election to the school board.

The deadline for candidates to file papers to get on the March ballot was Wednesday.

Multer, 84, is finishing her first term as a selectman.

“I enjoy it so much, I love it,” she said this week. “It’s a new challenge every day and you’re working with some wonderful people.”

Before moving to Harpswell in 1976, Multer worked as a newspaper reporter, columnist, and public relations director at a community college in New Jersey.

Rich, 60, who did not return a call before deadline, serves on the town’s Budget Advisory and Comprehensive Plan Implementation committees. He unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for the state House of Representatives in 2002 and 2004, losing both times to Democratic Rep. Leila Jane Percy of Phippsburg. He also lost a bid to replace former selectman Gordon Weil after he stepped down from his seat in 2005.

Rich has lived in Harpswell full-time for 1o years and does pro-bono legal work. He’s seeking the office of selectman because he hopes to change Harpswell’s budget and staffing levels to better reflect the town’s changing demographics.

Standridge, 75, said he is hoping to “pay back” the community for the services he receives by serving as the next road commissioner. He served for 12 years as a county commissioner in North Carolina, is the vice chairman of Planning Board and chairman of the Harbor and Waterfront Committee.

Standridge’s background is in transportation and distribution. He has worked at Dow Chemical and a cement factory in South Dakota, and has lived in Harpswell for three years.

His opponent, Ponzaini, owns a construction business. He ran unsuccessfully for road commissioner in the 1980s and said he is running again because it’s the kind of work he has done for many years. Ponzaini, 65, has lived in Harpswell his entire life. He has never held an elected office and hasn’t served on any town committees.

Rogers, 74, has been on the town Finance Committee, served more than six years on the Planning Board, was chairwoman of Library Committee, and has been the librarian at the Orr’s Island Library for more than 20 years.

Annual Town Meeting is March 10.

Emily Guerin can be reached at 781-3661 ext.123 or eguerin@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @guerinemily.

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